3. What examples are there of good practice to encourage and maintain volunteers in community sport?

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1 Inquiry into Support for Community Sport Ayr United Football Academy Ayr United Football Academy ( has been incorporated as an entirely autonomous not for profit limited company and is a Scottish registered charity. Its members are South Ayrshire Council, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayr College, Ayr United Football Club and The Ayr United Community Initiative, which are all represented on the Board of Directors, along with three independent Directors. The aims and objectives of the Academy are: 1. To provide services focussing on meeting a number of wide community and social objectives, and include a specific objective: To promote and protect the wellbeing and physical health of people living in the vicinity of the facilities operated by the company, and to assist in the relief of ill health and the provision of health education for such people Assisted by a small number of employees, the Academy s activities are driven by more than 70 volunteers, who form its lifeblood and are committed to the charity s objectives. We welcome the opportunity to participate in this inquiry and respond as follows: 1. What is being done to support volunteers in community sport? We have around 40 volunteer Football Coaches. We do not pay any remuneration, but do offer to repay any appropriate expenses. Around 5, only, of these coaches take up the option to reclaim, the conclusion being that they are committed and not seeking financial reward. Personal expense is not a barrier. We support the coaches in other ways, by paying in full the costs of their Coach Education, which takes the form of progression through the Scottish FA s Coach Certification pathway, the higher ends of which can be expensive to fund. We find that the coaches appreciate this and value the certification. We also fund First Aid training. In addition we have around 30 non coaching volunteers who tend to administration and other support activities. Reference to the support which we provide to these volunteers is made at section 3. 1

2 2. What are the barriers facing volunteers? One of the barriers facing volunteers and the Academy is the process of carrying out disclosure checks, which can be administratively difficult and time consuming. The time taken to carry out disclosure may deter prospective volunteers. As a registered charity, disclosures are processed free of charge, but we are aware that there are organisations that are not eligible for free disclosure and find the cost prohibitive. We understand and support the need for disclosure and hope that the recently introduced PVG scheme process will streamline the system and make it more manageable. Another barrier is that which applies to minibus drivers below a certain age. We transport young people around Scotland to take part in football activity and find it difficult to find older volunteers who do not need to pass the additional costly driving test. 3. What examples are there of good practice to encourage and maintain volunteers in community sport? As noted above, in addition to the 40 or so football coaches we have around 30 other volunteers who are involved in a range of activities, including administration, management accounting, website administration, kit and equipment procurement, match reporting, PR etc. Because we are volunteer driven we try to focus on each volunteer s reason for becoming involved, to ensure that the volunteer gains satisfaction and fulfilment of his or her motivation for giving up time. Examples of reasons for volunteering and of the Academy s best practice approach: Career assistance Many young people volunteer because they realise that evidence of volunteering sets them aside from others when being interviewed for career positions. We take time to discuss with each of these (mainly young) volunteers what we can do to give them experience which relates to their chosen career and which may place them in a stronger position when competing for jobs. For example, we have a loose arrangement with Strathclyde University which has supplied us with around 7 students over the past 3 years, all of whom have been given experience by way of preparing our monthly and year end accounts. 2

3 We have also engaged with UWS journalism course manager who has provided us with journalism students who write news items for our website and local press, with a view to incorporating the work they do as a part of their University degree course. Retirement opportunities We have a number of retired or semi retired volunteers who seek to fill their time in a meaningful and rewarding way. We take time to ensure that they are allocated tasks which suit their skills and provide self fulfilling responsibilities. Other We have a small number of volunteers, most of whom are referred to us via the local Volunteer Centre, who has been forced to leave their jobs through injury, illness or work related stress and who are seeking to re enter employment, but need to re build their confidence. We are able to offer them a gentler pathway to full time involvement, by ensuring that they are able to contribute in a pressure free environment. 4. How can the contribution of local sports clubs be quantified for: (I) the preventative health agenda and (ii) communities? The development of local sports infrastructure (including clubs) is vital to developing a community wide approach to supporting greater physical activity and exercise. With the appropriate and accessible approaches to community participation (as well as performance and elite activity) sports clubs can increase by significant amounts the levels of physical activity in the general population. This is through the provision of: Programmes Outreach Facilities Expertise Leadership Role Models A community focus AUFA, as an example, seeks to develop sporting participation at all levels (particularly, but not exclusively for children and young people), provide targeted programmes (e.g. pre 5, learning disability, girls, young people at risk, people with poor mental health, men who are needing to raise basic fitness). Through this focus, they also build up local community capacity and leadership, routes to training and employment, volunteering and community cohesion. 3

4 5. What role does, or should, Community Sports Hubs (CSH s) play in encouraging sport in local communities? The Academy is considered to be a CSH and sees its role as one of providing access to football and support to all who want to take part. In our case activity is restricted to football, but we fully support the principle that a CSH should encompass all sports and are working with South Ayrshire Council to develop hubs across the local authority area. 6. Given reducing public expenditure, what examples of innovative joint working between clubs and public bodies exist to make the most out of funding? The Academy engages with a number of public bodies, primarily South Ayrshire Council and NHS Ayrshire and Arran, in the delivery of its community programmes. An excellent example of successful joint working is that of the South Ayrshire Football Development Programme, which is delivered by the Academy, with funding support from South Ayrshire Council, the Scottish FA and in kind support from Ayr United Football Club. This programme delivers football activity to children and young adults aged from 3 to 18, around South Ayrshire. South Ayrshire Council s funding is capped at 10,000 per annum. The programme is mid way through a second 3 year SLA governed term and has allowed the Council to shed two posts, costing around 45 to 50k per annum, which were previously allocated to deliver the programme. The programme has also grown significantly in size and quality since transferred to the Academy. 7. What are the three most important issues regarding sporting facilities at a local level? The simple answer to this question is: 1 lack of, 2 lack of and 3 lack of in no particular order! More specifically: i) Lack of provision in general It is a constant struggle to secure fit for purpose facilities and this leads to discontent amongst the large number of local football clubs who vie with each other for space. ii) Lack of provision of fit for purpose facilities for winter training The Southern European countries are able to train outdoors all year around, due to their climate superiority. The Scandinavian countries have provided 3G or 4G artificial playing surfaces to recognise the fact that grass playing fields cannot sustain constant training and playing wear. There are only 3 full size 3G football fields in the whole of South Ayrshire! 4

5 iii) Lack of provision of indoor training facilities The Southern European countries are able to train outdoors all year around, due to their climate superiority. The Scandinavian countries have built indoor facilities to allow them to move indoors in winter. There are no indoor 3G football facilities, full size or otherwise in the whole of South Ayrshire!. 1. Summary We hope that this response is helpful and would be pleased to contribute further at later stages of the inquiry process. Ayr United Football Academy 10 August

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